Thursday, December 24, 2009

To hear air-brakes in the snow

It’s Christmas Eve already, and Nik’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Nik!) and the snow is beginning to retreat, though that didn’t stop a large truck breaking down on the main road outside in the middle of last night and keeping me awake by farting its air brakes every couple of minutes. Also on a downside today is the news that Dan O’Bannon is no longer with us. Amongst his contributions to the genre, not the least being his creative influence on Alien, one of the absolute highlights for me remains Dark Star, the student film he made with John Carpenter that went on to become a successful indie feature. It was a real team effort: O’Bannon worked as a scripter, editor and actor on the movie. If the name Dark Star means nothing to you, give yourself a Christmas Present and find a copy to watch. I remember seeing it for the first time around Christmas when I was, well, a kid. It had a lasting effect. My god, I just this second realised where I got the ‘to camera’ diary room pieces in Guardians of the Galaxy from.
Anyway, it is, nevertheless, Christmas, and we should think happy thoughts. As I lay in bed listening to the music of the air brakes, I thought about all the cool ideas I didn’t get around to using this year: the magical catering supply company called Witchkraft Services; the title “Horrorscope” (Andy and I ended up calling it something else, as readers will discover next year); a character called Drew Morgue (actually, that’s a lie, as he ended up sneaking back in somewhere else); the fact that an on-line identity of nonspecific gender may be referred to as s/h/it; and the phrase “like the galaxy, he had a western spiral arm”, which I just can’t seem to sneak in anywhere.
There were many others, and some are too juicy not to be reserved for later use. Thanks for reading this year, and thanks for all your generous support and encouragement. Please accept my apologies for anything that’s run late - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
For some festive fun, frolics and chuckles, may I recommend you head over to Comic Geek Speak and listen to the podcast interview Andy Lanning and I did about our Marvel work (amongst other things); It’s over here: We were in an especially silly mood. I believe Cor has already expressed an interest in catching up with the comic stuff, so I’ll just say that Marvel has issued both Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy in numbered trade paperback collections.
I can also very much recommend a trip over to where Mr C has been running his splendid 12 blogs of Christmas. Yes, I do turn up in the mix at once point, but that’s not why I’m recommending it. There are all sorts of diversions and entertainments, plus people such as Russell T. Davies and Stephan Moffat talking about Christmases and New Years, past and present. 
Right, half seven, time for the day to begin. There’s a cup of tea to make and birthday presents to be removed from hiding.
If I don’t see you before, Happy Christmas, everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The doctor will see you now.

“Oh, really?” said the specialist. “An author, eh?” and so began an enthusiastic ten minute chat about the merits of Dan Brown, which was all very nice and cordial, except I was sitting there, waiting anxiously to get the results of my MRI and find out if I had terminal Brain Death Lurgy or Sudden Cerebral Splat Out The Ears Syndrome, or whatever.

So I was a little tense and braced, and a ten minute chat about the relative merits of D. Brown Esq was not high on my list marked ‘to do’. Maybe, I suddenly thought, this is his way of relaxing me so he can Break It To Me Gently. Oh god...

Turns out, I have epilepsy. I ‘just’ have epilepsy. No family history, no explanation of why I have suddenly developed it, but I know what’s going on now, and, without making light of the condition in any way, it seems like a pretty good result, considering where the Dan Brown chat could have been leading.

Can I just thank you all for your messages of support and encouragement here and on Twitter and Facebook etc. You guys...

As many of you have mentioned, it’s now been revealed that I wrote the screenplay for the 40K animated movie 'Ultramarines' ( I’ve been itching to let the cat out of the bag about this, and I’m properly excited it’s now been officially announced. Lots of you already have questions, and I’ll be answering them here and on the official site as we go along. But be patient! I’ll bring you the first update on the production as soon as they un-cuff me and let me out of this cupboard marked ‘secret movie stuff’.

Seeing as we’re getting all link-happy, I would like to point you to Nathan Long’s spiffy new website (, and also to an interesting dialogue I had with Mark Charan Newton, which Mark ran as a guest on Jeff Vandermeer’s blog (–-a-conversation-between-mark-charan-newton-and-dan-abnett/). As the link suggests, it’s a chat about tie-in fiction, which some of you might find thought-provoking.

One of the questions I got asked by the specialist was “do you ever experience deja vu?” Do I? Not again! I get deja vu a lot (along with its close kinfolk Astonishing Coincidence, Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance and Jamais Vu). What that means for my head, I don’t know, but it segues me neatly to the last thing I wanted to mention. About twenty five years ago, as an undergraduate, I went with several of my friends to a Lloyd Cole and the Commotions gig. We liked them very much, and we liked the show very much too, especially the endearing fact that they played some of their best numbers more than once (“because we don’t know that many songs yet” Mr Cole offered by way of an explanation).

One of my best friends - we’ll call him Duffy, because that’s his name - decided, for reasons he later came to regret, not to come to the gig. He was kicking himself for missing it within days, if not hours, of the concert.

Last week, he emailed me (he lives in a distant part of the world now). He wanted to tell me that he had finally got the chance to go to a Lloyd Cole concert (no more Commotions these days), and had enjoyed it hugely. After the interval, Mr Cole had played one of his most famous songs, but because some of the audience had been late back from the bar, and had missed it, he played it again. Then he said, “I haven’t played a song twice in one concert since 1984. Back then it was because I didn’t know many songs”). He was referring, you see, to the actual concert that I had been to, and which Duffy had missed, and now Duffy and been there when he said-

I’m sure you get it. Nice and synchronous though, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Caution: Unexpected honking"

So I’m sitting here, writing this, watching the finals of the Over 35 Bronze Man-Lady. I assume that’s hyphenated. It could be, at a pinch, a slash. And before you go all taste and decency on me, it’s a ballroom dancing competition, and Man-Lady is a category that simply denotes a man dancing with a lady. Unnecessary clarity, I feel, unless there are categories I don’t know about like Man-Rotary Washing Line or Gnu-Lady.

Daughter B is taking part - she just won her third trophy. I’m sitting on the folding chairs with one eye on the dancefloor and my lap top in my lap. Outside in the park, thanks to the weekend storms, it looks like someone went bug-funt with an industrial leaf-blower.

I mention all of this simply for colour. It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. Thanks for all the messages of encouragement and support, I’ve really appreciated them. I did indeed break the MRI machine - this was just after they had scanned me to establish I have no cats in me. It’s probably their fault for not including the question “Are you an omega-level telekine scheduled for termination by the Ordo Hereticus?” on the pre-MRI checklist (between, presumably, “Have you got any metal plates, pins or stents?” and “Are you wearing tattooed eye-liner?”).

Anyway, it broke, and I had to come back later. In fact, when I say broke, it actually had the MRI equivalent of a paper jam, which, if you’ve ever had an MRI, you’ll be able to picture. Curious thing: they warn you about the odd loud noises, the banging, the necessity to stay still, and the potential claustrophobia (you’re inside a metal tube - now I know what an individually-vended King Edward cigar feels like), but they don’t warn that about halfway through, the MRI machine will stop banging like a pneumatic drill and starting making a noise like... Well, you know those horns that kids have on their bikes? A squeezy rubber bulb attached to a chrome horn? The sort of thing a seal would use in a circus? A honking thing? A sound most commonly experienced in Looney Tunes cartoons and Benny Hill sketches?

A noise like that. Behind my head. Over and over and over again.

Odd. Anyway, I didn’t break it this time, and the doctors and technicians were all smiley, and in a week or so, I’ll get the final results - “I’m sorry, Mr Abnett, but we’ve scanned your head and we can’t find any trace of a brain at all.” Equally odd is the fact that I choose this week to watch the final few episodes of the fourth season of Bones. I don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn't seen it, but odd, that’s what I’m saying. Odd.

Still, I’m getting a lot of reading done. More news as it happens. We’re off home, where there’s a dumpling with my name on it (note to self: stop labeling things).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Hate Dan Abnett

Wonders will never cease. The marvelous Mark Charan Newton, author of "Villjamur", read "Triumff", and liked it so much that he has written a few words to inspire others to read it too. What a very fine chap he is. Take it away Mr Newton.

Enough has been said about the plot already, so what I most of all want to add is this:

I hate Dan Abnett.

Why? Because having proved himself the king of noir-infused miltary SF, it takes quite a talent to move easily to something completely different - and this really is a triumffant leap in style. Such transitions really are difficult to pull off, and you would have thought that he's been writing books like this for the past decade.

Our foppish lead, Sir Rupert, heads on a rip-snorter of a ride across a steampunk alternate London that blends historical truth with the wonderfully bizarre. Half the time pissed, the rest getting down and dirty in duels (though the two are not mutually exclusive), this unlikely hero heads on the trail of Occult Goings On of the highest order. Whilst it's chock-full of nods-of-the-head to the finest of Culture and Art and History, it doesn't come over as pretentious – because most of all, "Triumff" is a great slice of British fun.

Anyway, back to the prose, which is the most entertaining aspect: Dan's style here is the bastard-son of, say, Scott Lynch and Tim Powers and all that's best of Blackadder. The depiction of the cityscape is a brew of heady descriptions, and written with a vast and esoteric vocabulary. And the humour is delivered with a wry smile that will have you guffawing boisterously from your armchair.

What's especially annoying, though, is that this pesky Abnett chap makes such a change of gear in writing and storytelling look so damn easy.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Something for the weekend.

Forbidden Planet beckons, and Nik tells me that I've worked too much again, this week, what with more books in the mind-mill for AR and BL!

So, this is just to say that we both admire Matthew Farrer beyond anything that we can adequately express in a couple of sentences. We are beyond delighted that he has read and reviewed "Triumff", and here are his thoughts.

TRIUMFF - Her Majesty’s Hero, by Dan Abnett

It’s raining. It’s pouring. London is very much the worse for water, and as the little tour that opens Triumff shows you how bad things are there it also shows you what sort of London you’ve stepped into: a city of wooden buildings, wagon-rutted streets, cock-fighting pits, overflowing sewers and oddly underdressed nuns. Foul weather or no, it’s a jaunty, amused little expedition: you can feel Dan getting into the rhythm of his prose, feeling the saunter and spring in its step, seeing the gleam in its eye. It’s an intro that gets you into just the right frame of mind to meet our hero. Who is, of course, in the process of duelling for his life.

Sir Rupert Triumff, seafarer, Constable of the Gravesend Basin and celebrated discoverer of Australia, was commanding over a yard of sharpened metal of his own. His black locks hung in ringlets around his brow, his shirt had acquired two extra slits since he had put it on that morning, and he was humming a song about the Guinea Coast for no real reason at all. Triumff had once read the title page of Vegetius, owned a risible translation of Livy, and often quoted Caesar, even though he had never been within ten feet of a copy. He was not, at that stage, entirely sure what day it was.

It’s no great spoiler to say that Sir Rupert manages to survive the end of the duel, albeit neither undefeated nor unscathed, but even as the clouds clear over London you can tell they’re gathering over Triumff. We get a short course in the world the story has led us into: Queen Elizabeth XXX sits on the throne not only of England but of the Anglo-Hispanic Unity, a superpower that has dominated both Europe and the New World for centuries, aided by the rediscovery of Magick during the Renaissance and the incorporation of “the Cantrips and the Jinx” into the natural philosophies of the Church. And eavesdropping on a meeting of wicked conspirators gives a handy introduction to what certain parties want to do to this status quo (something rather bad), and hints at the magickal means they plan to employ to do it (something considerably worse).

Triumff thought he had problems before. The fallout from his expedition to Australia in search of new forms of Magick has put him in a deeply uncomfortable position at Court - the “attempts on one’s life” sort of level - and he’s wondering if and for how long he can conceal the real nature of what he found there, let alone the true nature of the native Australian who returned to England with him. These problems are about to get a sharp push down his list of priorities, though, when a terrible act of sabotage devastates the cantripworks that keep mighty London running.

The City was utterly, utterly dark. ... Usually, the City at night lies like a black velvet cape encrusted with winking sequins, spread across the muddy earth by some titanic Raleigh for some celestial Elizabeth. Tonight, even the poetry had been turned off. Everything down there, under the beating rain, was dark, and blind, and cold and frightened.

Before he knows it Triumff has been roped into a secret mission in the frantic defence of the kingdom, and as he and his little band of allies swashbuckle their way to the heart of the conspiracy we careen through swordfights, disguised identities, lute-playing, vile magick, a sedan-chair chase, the finer points of cat-nailing, and helping hands from an Italian genius, a fierce old hedge-witch and... something rather stranger. The whole adventure’s cheerful, crazy momentum carries it into a royal showdown with a hideous apparition and a literally explosive climax.

Triumff is the sort of story that tends to get described as “rollicking”, and in fact I’m pretty sure Dan used that exact word in one of his YouTube interviews recently. It’s a good word. Rollicking, roistering, roller-coasting. You can tell that Dan had fun with this. I’ve enjoyed and admired his Black Library work, but there’s a high-spirited gusto in Triumff that I don’t think I’ve really seen from him before. The sense of fun is infectious - if you read this book in company I predict you’ll be regularly tugging your companions’s sleeves wanting to share the bit that just got you chuckling. The writing has the occasional shade of Kim Newman, a touch of Blackadder and a few passages that put me in mind of Pratchett, but while you can catch Dan’s nods to some of his tastes and influences this remains indisputably an Abnett novel. It has Dan’s trademark crisp, pacy prose, his skill at evoking scenery and image, and his deft switches of direction. He has an easy confidence in shifting between his cast as their subplots and trajectories converge, bringing in minor characters for scenes that help broaden the picture and give backdrop to the main story, and changing gears from high slapstick to mournful or macabre. Dan’s prose is like a master fencer’s technique: however frantic the pace may seem, if you look carefully you can see how poised and controlled each movement actually is. Triumff also re-uses a technique from the Ravenor novels, switching between first and third person, with one Mr Beaver of Fleet Street providing commentary on the events as they unroll and occasionally stopping to address the reader directly. It’s a conceit that generally worked for Ravenor but actually works better here: it’s better built into the way the story is framed, and more suited to the amiably unruly feel.

In a garret on Fleet Street, your humble servant, the author, Master Wllm Beaver, sat, scribbling away by the light of the single overhead lamp. It was a piece on “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Hose”, as I recall. It was destined never to be finished. My HB pencil had just broken, and a rummaging search was underway in the drawers of the desk for a clasp knife with which to resharpen it before item four (“You can wear it on your head if you seek to obtain money with menaces from a Banking House, Real Estate Society or Postal Depot”) slipped from my mind.

Triumff grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck early on and drags you along at such a pace that you can take the rough patches in stride, but in fairness, the rough patches are there. The main characters are sharply-drawn and endearing, but the supporting cast feels a little overstocked, and I found myself sometimes having to backtrack to earlier scenes so I could keep some of the characters straight in my head. The various subplots are handled well during the body of the book but there were rather a lot of them jostling for resolution at the end, and that meant that not all of them had satisfying payoffs and robbed the ending of some of its energy. There’s also a connection between an early scene of New World shamans and a subsequent character with a role right at the climax (be spoiler-aware when discussing this in the comments, please) which may have been intended as a deliberate bait-and-switch surprise but which ends up feeling disjointed.

None of this means that Triumff is less than a pleasure to read. I was busted more than once sneakily reading it while I was supposed to have my laptop open for something else entirely, I’ve read bits out from it to family and friends, and am very much looking forward to it hitting the shelves so I can start comparing favourite moments with other readers. It’s been great to see what Dan can do when he stretches his stride to the fullest.

So far no Angry Robot book seems to be anything like any of the others. I’ve now sampled the shuddering psychological wringer of Slights, the hypodermic-sharp post-cyberpunk of Moxyland and now had my swashbuckle dialled up to eleven for Triumff. Dan’s next book for them promises to be something different again, and I look forward to enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed this.

He saluted me, and strode away down the gravel path. As he disappeared from view behind the stable arch, I could hear that he was humming a song about the Guinea Coast.

That was the last time I saw him.

Until the next.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Day of Days!

It has arrived! My day of days, and my comp copies of "Triumff"! I'm going to take this opportunity, if I may, to introduce a new guest blogger. I know, I know, you've read a review of "Triumff" already, you might even have read two, but, frankly, I can't get enough of people saying nice things about this book. It's my baby, and it has been for a very long time, and I can't think of anything nicer to do, today, than revel in praise for it!

I was seriously considering have a competition for best review of "Triumff", but they've all been so darned marvelous that it'd be impossible to choose just one!

Jonathan Green has been a fellow Black Library writer, and a very fine fellow for more years than I care to remember. He's a jolly good writer and a jolly good egg, and I can't say enough nice things about him. I sent him "Triumff", and the dear man read it. This is what he had to say. Thank you, Jonathan, and take it away:

A review of Dan Abnett’s Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Jonathan Green

Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero is Dan Abnett’s long-awaited and much-anticipated original fiction debut. He’s been writing for years, of course (which is patently apparent in Triumff), and is already a multi-million-selling author, but outside of 2000AD, Games Workshop and various other comic-writing and tie-in novelisation gigs, he is still, unbelievably a relative unknown. But all that is about to change with the publication of this truly original work of fiction.
The setting is the present day, only it’s a world very different to our own, the sun never having set on the glories of the first Elizabethan Age. In this alternate reality the Renaissance saw a re-emergence of the Magick Arts and hence the arresting of significant technological development. Against this backdrop of Shakespearean thesps, wily cardinals and duelling noblemen, Sir Rupert Triumff – dandy, drinker and dueller – is catapulted into a revenger’s tragedy’s worth of intrigue as he tries to uncover and put paid to a nefarious and damnably traitorous scheme.
Abnett’s world-building is assured and satisfyingly detailed, although none of this detail ever swamps the plot which moves at a rollicking rate. In fact, it reads like a Blackadder-inspired cinematic blockbuster. As a result, the alternate Elizabethan setting is instantly recognisable, populated with pastiches of historical figures as well as characters that have walked right out of your television set. There’s even a nod to hardcore Warhammer fans. Humour, action and intrigue abound in equal measure, and combine with Abnett’s idiosyncratic clockpunk stylings to create a wholly satisfying read.
To dismiss Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero as a Pratchett clone is to do it a disservice; this is classic Abnett. From the economy of description – which nonetheless conjures a vivid and fascinating backdrop – to the grand set-piece action scenes and frequent, pun-tastic humour – that extends to a scene right out of Bond – it could hardly be anything else.
If you want your buckles well and truly swashed and derring done, you know where to come. Triumff is, in a word, a triumph.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eve of "Triumff"!

Tomorrow, "Triumff" will officially be on the bookshelves. Waterstones will have it, WHS will have it, heck, everyone will have it, and if they don't, jolly well ask for it!

To mark the occasion, it is my very great pleasure to introduce my latest guest blogger. (See, still not actually doing a whole lot of work over here, except for the several thousand words of "Prospero Burns" that I uploaded into my computer, today. So, thank you to everyone who is guesting and keeping you lot busy, here, so that I can get busy over yonder with more writing. That week off was very welcome, but now it's time to catch up.)

I digress. Let's have the guest blog. He is known far and wide for his wit and wisdom, and his all-around lovely-blokeness. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's Big... no really. Take it away, Big.

Cockspankingly brilliant!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vivat Regina

Thanks to Matthew Churchill, I am able to indulge myself, once again, and hand over this column to another. Take it away, and thanks very much, Matthew.

Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero is Dan Abnett’s long-awaited original fiction novel. Abnett has an extensive history of writing successfully for various science fiction and fantasy imprints, but Triumff is our first chance to see him playing with toys entirely of his own creation. Those familiar with Abnett’s writing will appreciate that such toys are likely to be full of whirly death, and will contain sharp objects not suitable for small children.

Its eponymous hero, Sir Rupert Triumff, drinks, cavorts and swashbuckles through an alternate version of present-day Earth where the sun never set on the Golden Age of Elizabethan England. Her Glorious Majesty Elizabeth XXX sits on the throne, along with a considerable weight of petticoats, bodice and pearls. A conspiracy is afoot to threaten the life of the Queen and taint the Magick that protects and prolongs her realm. And it’s down to Rupert Triumff to save the day.

The book is a rollicking good read. It has the easy grace and unpretentious style of Abnett’s Games Workshop novels, and shares his familiar blending of accessible prose, realistic characterisation, and resonant description. Triumff will expand your vocabulary with neat antique and obscure words if you care to look them up, but the writing never gets bogged down in flowery prose. Primarily, it is a comic novel, and its lightness of touch and playful language may surprise some who come to Abnett purely from the grim darkness of Games Workshop, although a deft comic sensibility has often been at the heart of Abnett’s work for 2000AD comics.

As an original novel, Triumff requires no familiarity with any of Abnett’s extensive back-catalogue. Comparisons to other writers are inevitable in the fantasy genre. Some are describing Triumff as a kind of Steampunk Pratchett, and it’s understandable. However, Abnett writes action considerably better than Pratchett, with several meaty fights and an explosive conclusion.

With its alternate Earth setting, much of the enjoyment comes from viewing our own world through a skewed mirror, and spotting the parallels. Triumff isn’t preoccupied, however, with playing this game to the detriment of the plot, but does allow for some nice cameos, including a Q’ute James Bond scene that had me laughing out loud.

Ultimately, that’s the important bit. Triumff is laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are strong and well-defined, and the neo-Elizabethan setting is handled carefully and without alienating those unfamiliar with all things cuffed and ruffed. It’s pacey, punchy, and highly enjoyable. Vivat Regina!

(This review was based on an advance proof copy. Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero will be published in October by Angry Robot books and is available from and

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

GamesDay update and the Scottish tour

With only a few days to go before GamesDay, I'm really looking forward to it! I know I won't get to see you all, but I plan to have fun with the people that I do get to see, so buy a book and get in line.

For those of you with one of my hundred tickets, I'll see you there. I believe signing times are 11 - 12.30, 1.30 - 2.30 and 3 - 4.

For those of you who don't get a ticket, I'm really very sorry, and I will do my best to make it up to you, somehow.

The Scottish signing tour, which was to include Leeds and Gateshead has been trimmed down, so that I can only do the Scottish dates in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk. Again, my apologies, but I am unable to drive, and so I'm now flying straight to Scotland. I will add Leeds and Gateshead to my schedule as soon as I possibly can, hopefully in the spring.

Roll on GamesDay!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I'm not saying I've wasted mine, but I'm certainly going to be rewrapping it more carefully every time I put it back in the fridge from now on. At the end of last week, I had an unpleasant little episode that landed me in hospital for the day. It was, in all likelihood, related to a mild pre-existing condition called Nocturnal Epilepsy, but it wasn't very nice. Well, it wasn't very nice for Nik, I didn't know much about it. In fact, that was probably the most distressing part of it from my point of view: short term memory loss and a general befuddlement as to what was actually going on.

Anyway, I'm fine now. I feel fine. My brain works... as much as it ever did. I fully intend to be getting on with all the things I should be getting on with (and yes, that includes making sure these novels and comics come out on time). However, I've been told to take it easy for a little while, and not to do anything that might exacerbate the condition. I can foresee having all sorts of tests and examinations in the near future as nice doctors make sure I'm flight-worthy.

The principal upshot of all of this is that it will effect some of the public appearances planned over the next three months. I'm not really supposed to travel at all, but I'm not going to sit on my arse. I will have to limit the events I do, somewhat. That will mean flying to Scotland for the Edinburgh/Glasgow/Falkirk signings, rather than driving up country, which means, I'm very sorry to say, Gateshead and Leeds will have to wait until I can make it up to them for a properly dedicated visit. It also means that my face-time at GamesDay has been rationed. I'm especially disappointed about this, because I love the annual opportunity to meet and chat with as many BL readers as possible. There's always next year, and Black Library day in the spring! I'll also see if I can devise some cunning and inventive ways of making it up to anyone who missed out.

For the time being, please check the BL website and Facebook page for revised details of GamesDay and the signing tour of the north as they relate to me. I'll try to post these new details here, too, as soon as I have them.

To sum up, I'm fine. I may simply have worked a little bit too hard. Prospero Burns, and everything else that's lined up, is still very much on-course. I simply need to take a little constitutional rest or risk the tuts of Doctors and the wrath of Nik. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. The Emperor Protects.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

That About Covers It!

The cover for "Triumff" has been finalised and I'm thrilled to be able to talk about it. Larry Rostant has done a fantastic job rendering our hero in all his muck and glory, and a very handsome man he is too - Triumff that is. (I'm sure Larry Rostant might also be considered a good looking man in some quarters, but, in this instance, I'm referring to the dashing adventurer at the heart of my tale.) I'm awfully fond of a good chimney, too, so all my requirements have been more than met. Thanks, Larry!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Form an Orderly Queue...

...The countdown to "Triumff" begins here. It's less than a month (October the 1st to be precise) before Angry Robot releases my first novel for them: "Triumff"! I've spoken about this a little before, and I must say, I'm beginning to get very excited about its launch. But you don't just want to hear me banging on about it: I've sent a few PDF copies out to some friends and relations of this blog to solicit their opinions and previews. As the responses come back, I'm going to run them as guest blogs, and today we have the very first. Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a very warm welcome for the indomitable and rather lovely Xhalax!

Take it away, Xhalax:

"I’ve never been much of a fan of history, even though a lot of sci-fi seems to be based on the past in a ‘history repeats itself’ sort of way. But I’m not one to prejudge, so I read “Triumff” with an open mind.

"The concept is pretty straight forward, but I have to admit that I kept forgetting that this was actually ‘modern times’ rather than the 16th century. The idea is that the UK hasn’t ‘progressed’ in a manner we’d recognise since the 1500’s. It is Elizabethan London in all it’s grotty, grimy glory.

"The setting is done to the usual Dan Abnett standard, with broad brush strokes setting up Triumff’s London to the right degree, and, as per usual, I was dropped right into the very middle of the world, and felt like this was a place where the characters could really live.

"The characters all fit the story nicely with elements of Flashman and shades of Blackadder. Not to mention the more contemporary references thrown in for good measure, and a laugh too.

"All in all, I really enjoyed this jolly good romp through London, and found myself laughing out loud on quite a few occasions, especially at the modern media references, which could necessitate another read through to try and spot more. Plus, I liked the little twist at the end, didn’t expect that one!"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What goes around comes around.

Hi all,

Our good friend, the digital artist and film maker, Matt Snyman is in the running for a YouTube HP competition. We love his work and want to support him, so if you'd like to visit the following tiny URL, and give him a thumbs-up, that'd be lovely. If you really like his work you can give him a thumbs-up every day. We will be!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

It seems strange to me that this time last week, I was at GamesDay Germany. To be honest, this time last week, I was actually negotiating the M25 on the way back from Heathrow, but the day had been spent in Cologne attending the positively wonderful GamesDay in Germany.

It was my first German GamesDay, and I positively had to be there, given my no-show last year. It was great. The city was great, the weather was great, the company was great, the food was great, the venue was great, and it was, simply fantastic to meet and chat to so many German readers.

Here's what my queue looked like before my queue arrived.
You've gotta love an empty rope-line, right? The crowd arrived to fill it pretty damned fast. Here's what they found themselves facing before I sat down:
Once I sat down, it was head-down elbows-out signing, and I'd just like to re-hello everybody who came to see me. Highlights for me included Packmaster (we meet at last) and Bernd and the guys from the Air Base, who I will most definitely be visiting next year for a proper guided tour (that is, if GW send me to GamesDay Germany next year). Addition highlights include the following people who turned up in costume:

... And mighty fine they looked too. For those of you who like a little tour-guide with your blog, here's what Cologne cathedral looked like as I walked over the Rhine towards it (obviously, there was a bridge, I'm not, like, Jesus). The cathedral houses the bones of the Magi in a golden ark. Allegedly. I must check that out, next year (I was pretty pushed this time, because of, you know, GamesDay.

All in all, as you can tell, it was great. I'd like to thank Mal and Mark and the German GW crew for making me feel welcome and keeping me company. Let's do it again, guys!

While I'm on the subject of photos and pictures and costumes, I would like to share this picture of Alison Smaalders, who sent me this photo of her as Saint Sabbat. I hope she won't mind me sharing it with all of you, because it's a great look.

Thanks to Nik's Photoshopping skills for the excellent backgrounds in these shots. We didn't want to upset anyone caught in the background.

A big shout out to Dave Taylor, whose website currently displays the winner of his "Design a Set of Stalk Tank Rules for Apocalypse" competition. Dave's site is damned good, and he's also one of the staunchest Ghost fans there is. That's why Blood Pact is dedicated to him. If you want to check out his blog it's at:

Finally, if my old college friend, Tom, tried to e-mail me through this site, could he do it again? As I checked out the in-box connected to this site the other day, I could've sworn I saw an e-mail from Tom, but it got swallowed by the aberrant behaviour of the internet, deleted before I could open it. If it was you, Tom, please e-mail again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ready for my close-up

The long-promised second batch of videos got filmed last weekend, thanks to Adelie, and she's been posting the results up on YouTube all week. The first four can be found at the following tiny URLs, and there will be more to come.

All told, I had about nine pages of questions that had come from this blog, Facebook, the BL site, and similar, and I think that I managed to answer just about everything (with varying degrees of accuracy). I'll be inviting more questions again soon, because I hope this will become something of a regular exercise, so get your thinking caps on. In addition, Black Library Television is going to quiz me next week, too, so they'll have a whole bunch of questions of their own. I guess the next film we do should be the promised bedtime reading of the first chapter of 'Triumff'.

And so to Germany, specifically Cologne, where I'm heading tomorrow. This is my first German GamesDay, and I'm really looking forward to it, particularly after I made such a howling kack-storm of attending last year. To be fair, I was bleeding, internally. I look forward to seeing everyone there, on Sunday, and I've got PacMaster's translation all ready.

Finally, I can't vouch for 'Prospero Burns', but 'A Thousand Sons' is bloody good, so far...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pay Attention at the Back!

Two quick things I wanted to cover, this evening, whilst I was close to a laptop:

First of all, due to circumstances beyond my control (actually, I decided to update my software and didn't realise it would wipe out all sorts of settings on my imac) I haven't been picking up my e-mail feed from this blog and my website for an embarrassingly long time. This has now been rectified, thanks to the stirling work of Matt Snyman, so it should be business as usual again soon. In the meantime, let me apologise to anyone who sent me an e-mail with the reasonable expectation of an answer. I will work my way back through the e-mails and respond to as many as I possibly can. If after a couple of weeks you still feel left out or overlooked, please re-send an e-mail. I'll try to get to everybody.

The second thing is, just to quickly mention, how much I'm looking forward to attending GamesDay Germany next weekend. I was scheduled to appear there last year, but had to cancel at the last minute due to the fact that I had come down with some truly horrible lurgy. To everybody who missed me last year, I look forward to seeing you next weekend. In particular, I'm hoping to meet several long-time posters or corresponders, face to face, so let me know who you are. And somebody had better tell me how to write 'let the galaxy burn!' in German, incase anybody wants something not scribbled in English.

See you in Cologne next Sunday!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

When the Books come In

Dance to the daddy,
Sing to the mummy,
Dance to the daddy,
To the mummy sing!

It's been excitement all round in our house, today, because the first copies of "Blood Pact" arrived hot off the press: one perfect UK Edition and one perfect US Edition. Very lovely they are too. It's a special something to actually get the printed work in your hands after all the time it took to produce it (especially in the case of Blood Pact). Huzzah!

October is going to be a busy time for me as Blood Pact and Triumff are both officially on the shelves that month. I can see there are going to be a lot of signings and interviews and stuff to do. In the next couple of weeks, I hope to be writing blogs specifically about the books to give you a taster, and maybe dreaming up some other inventive ways to fire your imaginations about them.

Talking of which, I have now sent out PDFs of Triumff to the English contingent (you know who you are), and I intend to send PDFs to eager American test-readers (it's like being a test pilot) in the very near future.

The cover of Triumff is coming together, and I was distracted for quite a long time this afternoon by the reading copy PDF, because it is the first time I've seen my text properly typeset with lovely Elizabethan fonts for the chapter headings etc. I started reading a chunk of it, and a) It made me laugh, and b) It got me jolly excited about it, all over again. I probably shouldn't admit either of those things out loud, but it's amazing how something as simple as typesetting can de-familiarise a piece of writing, so that you see it with fresh eyes. I can't wait for Triumff to come out. I can't wait for as many people as possible to read it.

In other news, bear in mind that we're in the middle of Perseid season. The nights of the eleventh and twelfth will be the busiest in the UK, with up to one a minute. This is shooting stars I'm talking about. On those nights, try to get out somewhere away from town light, and somewhere you can minimise the light of the moon (which will be a little bit of an interference this year. And then... make a wish.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Proof copies of Triumff

Hi all,

I have just sent out a couple of electronic review copies for people to read and post about. I thought I could get away with sending out a few more, before I get told off.

So... anyone who wants an electronic proof copy of Triumff by Dan Abnett, published by Angry Robot, just let me know why you'd be a good candidate for reviewing it, in 50 words or fewer, by Monday, and we'll see what we can do. Post your entries here, and we'll announce winners and get in touch with you. What we're looking for from you is a 100 to 300 word reviews that you'd be happy to post here, and possibly on Amazon and

Best of luck.

Crikey! That sounds almost like a competition!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Vikings? This Far Up?

There now follow a few apologies.

I apologise for the fact that many people have been saying “where the blinking flip is Blood Pact?” Also, I apologise that the promised follow-up YouTube interviews with me have yet to materialise. Oh, and that I haven’t blogged in a dog’s age. And also, that I went to Canada and never thanked the Canadians.

There’s really no excuse for any of this, but here’s one anyway.

I’ve been busy. I have been busier, by quite a margin, than I ever anticipated being in this particular part of 2009. I have been really fething busy. I’m not complaining, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but - oh my god! - it hasn’t left any time for the basics, like blogging, or keeping up with Facebook, or doing informal YouTube interviews, or speaking to other members of the household, or remembering to wash. Oh, and apparently Michael Jackson died. Who knew?

I can’t promise that this is me getting back on track, but a blog here, and Facebook there and maybe, in the next week or so, a few interview-casts, and we might be up to speed.

For the time being.

Blood Pact is done, and I’m really pleased with it. It’s nothing like Only In Death, but that’s the point. If Only In Death is a big climactic last stand, then Blood Pact is a far more valedictory event. With added tight, crunching, blood-soaked action. It’s much more like an espionage novel, The Khorne Identity, if you will. It’s very character-driven, and, if you’re a long time Ghost reader, I think you’ll get a kick out of seeing favourite characters in unfamiliar or unusual roles.

Now, Canada. Thank you, Canada. Thank you for having me. It was brief, but it was great. It was a total blast. I met a large number of very nice people, who seemed genuinely pleased to meet me and talk to me. I signed a lot of books. It was a three-Sharpie Games Day. I think that says it all. And you’ve got to love a country that brews great beer, serves humus and crudities at a Games Day, and uses as an ad-line for its national carrier “ninety-five percent of fatalities on Canada’s roads are caused by moose: aren’t you glad you’re flying?” Thank you, Canada. I look forward to coming back. I hope my next Games Day trip is as enjoyable. (Germany, in August... They’re not going to have any trouble with the ‘great beer’ part at least, are they?).

Just a thought: I wonder if there are any statistics for the percentage of air-crash fatalities in Canada that are caused by moose. I mean, you’d want diagrams, wouldn’t you?

So, now, as the temperature pushes into the thirties, the cats are flaked out like discarded draught-excluders wishing their fur coats were un-zippable, and Roddick and Federer fight it out to the bitter end, I’m girding my loins for the next big project. Yes, folks, it’s Prospero Burns (Mongomery’s less-well known brother).

Stop me if you’ve heard this, but, originally, I was going to tackle the Thousand Sons side of the deal, and Graham was going to handle the Space Wolves. The reason for this - and I really do understand that the following revelation is such a heretical statement that Eisenhorn might have to come and shoot me through the lungs - is that I don’t really like Space Wolves.

All right. Stop yelling. Stop it. Stop. I KNOW, okay? I know. Let me explain. I think the Space Wolves are great. They are a great, vivid, visceral element of 40K, great to play, great to collect. But for use in fiction they are, to me, too on the nose. They too obviously resemble the source of their inspiration. Think of it this way: I could write a novel about a chapter of space marines, who originated on a tough, unforgiving world of high plains and grassy savannahs. The chief way of life was as drovers, driving the million-animal herds of gigantic, and often very dangerous, grox across continents. This work bred men who were tough, weather-beaten and wily, relentless, dogmatic, reflective, but mercurially fast. They evolved quick wits and cunning, and quick reflexes, but they could also sit in the saddle for days, biding their time. They were almost empathically connected to their loyal steeds. They knew how to chase, hunt, defend the herd, bring down a big bull. And the very toughest and most promising of these drovers were selected by the mysterious warriors, who lived in their isolated fort on the isolated mountain, to be inducted into their ancient order of space marines.

Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Sounds like a decent basis for a chapter, right?

Now what if I said the chapter was called the Six Shooters? And that their armour design included chaps, a bandana and a ten gallon hat? Oh, and spurs? And they were famous for their trademark ‘two-bolt-gun’ holsters?

You see what I mean?

The inspiration is fine. The Thousand Sons are Aztecs. The Blood Angels are goth vampires. The Imperial Fists are Romans. The White Scars are a mongol horde. The Iron Hands are robots. The Ultramarines (and, hell yeah, the Iron Snakes) are Greeks. The fact is that all of them have taken the point of inspiration and run with it. They’ve put the background idea through some kind of creative filter to make it both richer and less obvious. But the Space Wolves are exactly what they appear to be, with no filter and no remove, which makes them giant fun on the gaming table, and a giant pain in the arse in a novel.

So anyway... I finally suggested to Graham that I should take the Space Wolves, because it would force me to find a way into them. I’ve already seen the work he’s doing on the Sons, and, oh my god, it’s mouth-watering. His book, which will be called A Thousands Sons (one of those instances where the legion name is so good, you don’t need to invent a better book title), is going to be packed with great ideas. We’re knocking stuff back and forth, and a momentum is building. For my part, I’m filling my workspace with all things Norse and Viking, and Icelandic and barbarian. You wouldn’t believe the sources I’m going to. I want the Space Wolves to be ABSOLUTELY the Space Wolves all of you out there love, AND YET something you’re not expecting; something that’s gone through a filter; something that makes you all go “Christ in a longboat! I have never thought of them like that!”

Tomorrow, I may buy a bearded axe. If not tomorrow, then sometime this week. I kid you not. Sometimes, physically handling a key prop is the best way to unlock an idea. And I’ve already checked that the Rochester Armoury (that fine institution that, long time readers may remember, sold me a pilum on Good Friday), has something Danish and two-handed in my size.

More on the subject of axes and space vikings in coming weeks, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m writing a David Tennant, Dr Who adventure for BBC Audio (all kinds of fun!), and the War Of Kings cosmic event for Marvel is getting serious praise. Other than that, it’s very warm and very quiet. I think the Hussar may have evaporated in the heat or taken to apporting in the cupboard under the stairs, where it’s dark and cool.

Oh, Federer just won. Longest men’s singles final in Wimbledubblybum history: fact.

Finally, some recommendations. The new album from White Denim is simply brilliant. The true crime book The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston is fascinating and unbearably gripping, and I recommend it to anyone who’s ever enjoyed anything with Hannibal Lector in it. The film Role Models, while in no way perfect, really REALLY tickled my funny bone. I guess that says a lot about my adolescent mind-set, though it also says a lot about my nerd-hood too. Role Models is surprisingly warm and celebratory of the concept of larping.

Forty years ago this month, America put a man on the moon. I remember it, though it didn’t seem a big deal at the time (I was four, after all). It was such a big deal. If you haven’t already been moved or inspired by the anniversary documentaries or books or articles, then go and buy a book like Moon Shot or A Man On The Moon, and stun yourself silly with details that are funny, strange, unexpected, intrepid and often insane. Remind yourself what it actually meant. For example, NASA didn’t think to fit an outside door handle on the hatch of the lunar module. If Buzz Aldrin had pulled the hatch shut behind him when he bounced down to follow Armstrong onto the surface, they wouldn’t have been able to get back in... at all... and history would have commemorated an altogether different, and more harrowing, story.

Buzz Aldrin was called Buzz because his little sisters, when they were kids, couldn’t pronounce the word ‘brother’. They said ‘buzzer’. “To infinity and beyond!” is a wonderful aspiration. “To infinity and then back home again alive!” is rather more rational.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Toronto Bash

I’m busy as a very busy thing on National Let’s Be Extra Busy Day, but there are a couple or three things I just wanted to mention. The first is Games Day Canada in Toronto this Saturday (already?!?), and I’m looking forward to seeing you there, though I acknowledge that Toronto may be a long way for some of you to come unless you’re Canadian.

Because of Toronto and the other busy things (see above), my next round of You Tube ramblings has been slightly delayed. My apologies. I will gather up all the questions put forward both here and on Facebook and get on with it as soon as I’m back. This, of course, means there is still time to get extra questions in. Feel free.

Finally, a big slap on the back recommendation for, which I suggest you check out. Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is one of the best genre blogs online, and has the added bonus just now of offering signed copies of the sexy new Ravenor Omnibus for five lucky winners. Go on, you know you want to.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Questions, questions.

Last weekend, I spent time with Adelie High, recording some stuff to camera, where I rambled on about what I do, and answered a few questions sent in via the internet. It seemed to go well. The results, 6 short films, are now up on YouTube. Just go there and put my name into the search engine. A variety of subjects is covered, including the off-cuts and outtakes.

As this dry run was successful, we intend to delve deeper, and we'd like to give you more warning so that you can ask questions. Post them here... Anything you'd like to ask me. Post them up by next Friday night (29th May), and we'll try to include them next weekend when we sit down again. Adelie is quite quick at cutting, so you can expect the next batch of clips by the following week.

Over to you.

Friday, May 15, 2009


To GWs Manchester and Liverpool, I want to belatedly record what a fun time I had at both of your stores. Thank you for throwing on the events at such short notice, and huge thanks to the readers and acolytes who turned out in force to meet with me. For the record, my trip to Blackpool was as sublime as last year: Lily acquitted herself splendidly in the formation teams of the ballroom, and I drew ever closer to the core of an idea that Blackpool is the setting for the most significant and troubling novel of my career.

Back home, I am working hard to produce Marvel’s Cosmic scripts on a week by week basis, while I finish up the slaughterhouse that is Blood Pact. Every time I finish a chapter, I feel I need to be hosed down. It’s wet work. I’m not sure who’s going to survive on either side. Novels like this scare me. The characters are in charge.

In the meantime, I got up at 6am and drove to Nottingham, yesterday, and sat in Bugman’s with Nick Kyme and the mighty Graham McNeill. When it comes to Graham McNeill, I think it’s obligatory for everyone to preface his name with an italic “mighty”. Graham is one of the few creatives I’ve had the pleasure of coming into contact with who can match my ideas and raise me. Not only did we thrash out some amazing things for Prospero Burns/Thousand Sons, but we came up with a transcendent idea for what we are all calling “The Dark Ages” of the Horus Heresy. This was so cool, it simply took our mutual breath away.

Of course, you’re all going to have to just wait and see, and wait and see, even for Prospero Burns. I am Space Wolves up the YingYang. There are two things I can promise you: You have never seen Space Wolves like this, and, these will be the mothers and fathers of all Space Wolves. Nik’s scared: she doesn’t get Space Wolves, and she doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s going to get nasty, and it may never get nice again.

It’s getting windy here, and the rain has started. I’ve been seeing the Hussar a lot these last few weeks: in the summer house, and in the kitchen, in the corner of my eye. The fact that we’ve bought a porcelain effigy of him at an antiques fair, doesn’t seem to have slowed him down. I sometimes hear his footsteps, his breathing, his keys dropping onto the floor. I think I am better off with him than without him.

To conclude this evening, a joke:
Last night I dreamt I was in the middle of the Lord of the Rings. When I woke up, Nik said, “You were Tolkien in your sleep, again.”

Try the veal. Remember your waitress.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Nik, in Dan's absence

This is just to say that Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent are now TWITTERING as VincentAbnett. Trivia concerning underbed overhangs, the Hussar and swine flu over the cuckoo's nest, not to mention Czacza Gaborgia will appear their, in brief. Check us out. Pun-hunters especially welcome.

In all other matters, normal service will be restored shortly...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Comic Book Day..

... is this coming Saturday, May 2nd, and to honour it, I will be at Videosyncratic on the Cowley Road in Oxford, along with Simon Davis (Sinister Dexter and so much else), Richard Elson (Marauder and, of course, Kingdom) and 2000AD’s Tharg the Mighty, Matt Smith, in a 2000AD-themed Free Comic Book Day event! Be there or... or... we’ll be lonely! It all starts at 1.00pm! It’ll be great! I may even use another exclamation mark! Look, I did!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Manimal Abnettism...

... as I said, just the other day. Yes, sometimes I make no sense, even to me.
Black Library Live! went live last Saturday, and a properly fabulous event it was too. I gather it was enough of a resounding success for there to be more in future, so I heartily encourage all of you who didn’t attend to attend next time.
It was a busy and lively event, with lots of signings, talks, readings and seminars, plus games (set up in the marvelous surroundings of Warhammer World) based on settings and characters from the books. In fact, the bustle and energy felt like a good Games Day, but it was still small enough to be informal and fun. There was enough time to talk, to take some time to answer questions and wander off the point and, of course, everything was Black Library specific.
There was a great turn out by BL writers: the mighty Graham, the equally mighty Jim Swallow, the just-as-mighty-as-all-the-other-mighty-ones Sandy Mitchell, Neil “Mister Horus Covers” Roberts, Nick Kyme (wearing his BL editor AND his superstar author hats), Aaron, Richard... yeah, it was great. It was fantastic to be able to preview a couple of chapters of Blood Pact (us BL authors haven’t had the opportunity to do readings since Games Day shifted out of the NIA - the acoustics in the NEC just won’t allow it), and Graham tells me he also really relished the chance of doing a reading. Most of my afternoon was taken up with the serious signing event - me, Graham and Neil in a signing trifecta that lasted almost three hours. It was simply fabby to see Xhalax and Matthew C (where was Big?) plus a lot of other folks who’ve become very welcome and familiar faces from signings these last few years. I think, in the end, what really made it for me was noticing that the BL staff the (Mark, Christian, Nick, Caroline, Mal, Rik, George and the rest - thanks for giving up your Easter Saturday, guys!) were having such a good time. They all had smiles on their faces. They were all really happy with the way things seemed to be going. It was NOT a miserable afternoon spent working on a weekend. I took this as real proof of the event’s success. The only downside, it seemed, was that Anita found it unbearably warm (Anita? Graham? I secretly think Sawney’s an excellent name, BTW).
In summary, if you weren’t there you should have been, and you should make fething sure you’re there next time. If you were there... wasn’t it just a whole heap of good fun?
And so to Manchester and Liverpool next weekend. I’ll be bringing a hunka Blood Pact in case there’s an opportunity for some reading. I’ll be signing. I‘ll be chatty. I’ll be open to your questions, comments and suggestions (ahem - within reason). I’ll be windswept and interesting. Will you be there? Check out the previous blog entry and the BL site for specific timings and details.
So, things you should be doing. You should be reading Matt Farrer’s excellent blog, for starters. It’s a quiet piece of genius. You should be reading [Marvel’s cosmic event written by yours truly and Mister Lanning] War of Kings, because, well, it’s frickin’ excellent is what it is. Buy it for Paul Pelletier’s art alone. The man is touched by the proper spark of comic-stuff, the incandescent material that suffused Kirby, Buscema and Romita Senior.
And you should also be reading... me. It’s just been announced (so, therefore, I can talk about it) that I’ve signed a three book deal with Angry Robot, the new Harper Collins imprint. I will be interleaving these books - original Dan Abnett novels, accept no imitations! - in between my BL commitments (he added hastily, before all the Gaunt fans hyperventilated and collapsed in a swoon). Up first, this autumn, will be Triumff, a swashbuckling tale set on an alternate Earth where the Elizabethan Age never ended and the Industrial Revolution rediscovered magic. Our eponymous hero Rupert Triumff kicks ass and takes names in a lusty yet ill-advised effort to halt a conspiracy to kill her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth XXX.
Trust me, it will be either:
the funniest piece of adventure you’ve ever read, or,
the most adventuresome piece of funny you’ve ever read.

After that, in 2010, brace yourself for Embedded, an extremely hard-edged piece of combat SF that I think you’ll REALLY like.

So I guess that makes me Mister Busy, doesn’t it?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Q: When are you coming to Manchester (as someone recently asked me)?

A: April 18th 2009!
For those who are interested, I will be conducting a small, but perfectly formed, signing tour of the North of England, around Easter time. I will be in Manchester on Saturday 18th April for an hour from 12 noon, and Liverpool on Sunday 19th April for an hour from 11 am (sorry for the early start). I realise that this is only a fortnight away, and, therefore, short notice, but please contact the local GW stores in Manchester and Liverpool for more details.

Rather looking forward to it!

See you there.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2000 FP (part II)

Just a quick note to record how much I enjoyed the 2000AD mass signing at Forbidden Planet today. It was really great fun, and fantastic to mingle and chat (and also very nice to see people I hadn’t seen in ages). Many thanks to everyone who supported the event, especially John for the company, Cassanda for saying hello (say hi to your mum and dad), and Dukeleto (sorry I kept you waiting to get your books signed). It was all a great deal of fun, and it’s not every day you get to be in the same room as two Thargs. After much consideration, we all agreed that the two Thargs should not be allowed to touch or physically interact incase they reacted like matter and anti-matter, and levelled Shaftesbury Avenue, or possibly merged in some cosmic fashion to create an anti-Tharg. Yes, us 2000AD script droids really do have conversations like that, sometimes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2000 FP

Just a reminder to those in the vicinity (or those not in the vicinity who’d quite like to make the effort TO be in the vicinity) this coming Saturday (March 21st) is the day of 2000FP, a mass 2000AD related signing at Forbidden Planet in London to celebrate all things 2000AD AND Forbidden Planet’s birthday (it’s kind of their two thousandth signing). It starts at one o’clock, it’s a ‘free form’ come along and chat type situation, and I’ll be there along with David Bishop, Simon Davis, Rufus Dayglo, Al Ewin, Brett Ewins, Henry Flint, Frazer Irving, Robbie Morrison, Tony Lee, Simon Spurrier and Tharg himself, Matt Smith. Come along and get a copy of David Bishop’s fabulous history of 2000AD - Thrill-Power Overload! - as well as all sorts of other 2000AD-ish goodness, including the new Sinister Dexter collection, Eurocrash, which you can, of course, get me and artist Simon Davis to damage by writing on it.

See you there!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Joy of Seks

Okay, first of all... further to the strand on this blog regarding Sek (“Name or Rank?”), I thought I’d import a little additional chat on the subject from my Facebook wall. I’m sure neither Xhalax nor Matt will mind (you don’t mind, do you guys?).

Anyway, Xhalax asked:

“In a vain effort to quell my raging curiosity the quickest (I posted this on your blog too for the others....namely Big since he's Mr. Blood Pact....despite the fact this technically has nothing to do with the Blood Pact)....I'm asking this question here too since it's bugging the hell out of me.

Is 'Sek' some sort of given title? Just with Anakwanar and Isidor both having it, and yet being two separate people, it made me wonder.

I'm starting to suspect 'Incarnate' has a very very LARGE part to play in this by being used as/instead of 'proxy'.”

To which I replied:

“I hadn’t quite thought it through like that. Isidor holds the rank 'Sek Incarnate' because he is Sek's man on Gereon, and there may be other holders of the rank. But is Sek itself a rank or a name? Hmmmmm...

Well, the other big dude like Sek is Urlock Gaur, of course, and his followers include people who hold ranks like 'etogaur' and 'demogaur', so I'm pretty sure Gaur is a rank.... ie Orlock Gaur means something like "Orlock who is the great warmaster". But Anakwaner Sek always felt like a name to me.... Sek is a gaur himself, or holds a rank just below gaur if gaur is the over all big bad warmaster.

Now, I'm not so sure. As a reader, which appeals more to you?”

Then she said:

“Personally, I think I like 'Sek' being just a name rather than any sort of rank. Reading Traitor General and having all manner of names and their meanings is making my head spin a little (Chaos never sits easy on my Imperial mindset, so to speak)

So in that respect the word 'Incarnate' is the one that becomes the word that denotes position (rather than rank since Isidor isn't an military man, and position seems to fit better than rank for non-military).....the name before it (ie. Sek i this case) just denotes pretty much who they belong to/who they save.

And on that basis, I'd imagine,maybe Urlock Gaur.....may a 'Urlock Incarnate' to denote anyone who may be 'ruling' in his name while he's out plundering the galaxy.

Oh, maybe 'Incarnate' is the equivalently of 'Governor'

I think I need to go play some computer games.......too over stimulated with wordage.”

Then she went on to mention the additional issues of “Anarch” and “Archon”. Meanwhile, Matt Farrer (always a pleasure to hear from him) chipped in all the way from the other side of the world with this:

“Hi Dan, hope you don't mind if I get in on this discussion. Like Xhalax, I rather like the idea that Sek is a name rather than a rank. Given that the growing tension between Urlock and Sek seems to be a developing story point in the series, it's an interesting way of driving home the differences between them. If "Gaur" is a rank title, then when Urlock's forces take it on they're behaving like a regular armed force, including the Imperial ones: they're accepting that they're part of an organisation that's bigger than themselves, subordinating themselves to its laws and structures. Even their supreme commander takes the title according to the system of titles, following the laws and traditions that all the Blood Pact obey.

I think I ran out of characters. Continuing in a moment.”

A brief pause later, he added:

“Right. If Sek is part of Anakwanar's name, then when his subordinates take names like the Sons of Sek or Sek Incarnate they're not pledging themselves to an army, they're declaring a highly personal loyalty to an individual commander, making themselves an extension of his person and his will. There's quite a profound difference between a military corps that even the leader makes himself a part of, and a personality cult exclusively defined by its leader's quirks and desires, and it hints at what sorts of equally profound differences there might be between Sek and Gaur as people, and how those differences might shape their leadership and their rivalry.

I hope this is making sense, I'm doing my internetting in the small hours again.”

I thought it made a lot of sense. I also thought that reproducing these bits and bobs here might be interesting to other readers. I’d add that some of these subjects get further explored in the pages of Blood Pact.

What’s next? Rob’s very funny story about Barnes and Noble reminded me that there is a fairly broad range to the work I do. Indeed, I find that I often meet fans of a particular thing I do who have no idea at all that I also do something else. The best example of this that I can think of was at a convention recently, where I found myself having a simultaneous and very friendly chat with three ‘fans’. One was a major Warhammer reader, the second was a 2000AD regular, and the third was a major Marvel US fanboy. None of them had any real interest in, or knowledge of, the subjects of the others’ enthusiasms. To them, I was three different people, and I essentially found myself speaking three different ‘languages’, and translating certain comments so that the 2K guy picked up the Marvel Universe reference, and the 40K guy understood the SinDex comment etc etc. It was, on the whole, a pretty peculiar experience.

So... I’ve always imagined that the majority of people who read this blog, and who post their comments, are Warhammer oriented. I’ve always assumed that they account for the bulk of the traffic here, so I thought I’d widen things out a little (and blow my own trumpet into the bargain). Here’s what I do when I’m not in Black Library mode:

First off, other novels. There’s a Torchwood (“Border Princes”), a Doctor Who (“The Story of Martha”) and a Primeval (“Extinction Event”) out there already, not to mention various original audio books, including Torchwood: Everyone Says Hello (read by Burn Gorman) and Doctor Who: The Forever Trap (read by Catherine Tate). As Rob mentioned, there’s also a fine body of Wallace and Gromit work. Then there’s 2000AD. I’ve written for Tharg for over fifteen years now, on all sorts of strips, but the big one would be Sinister Dexter, which I created and which I’ve written every episode of. There are a number of trade paperback collections available to help get you up to speed, and a new one (“Eurocrash”) is going to be published soon. Sinister Dexter is probably my favourite thing. I am immensely fond of it.

If you check out the Judge Dredd Megazine at the moment, you can read Insurrection, which is me staging an all out space war in the Dredd universe with the help of the great Colin MacNeil. Read it for the art alone. I wrote the VCs for 2000AD for quite a while, and the entire run is also about to be collected in a trade. There’s also Kingdom, the strip I created with the very talented Richard Elson. The first two stories are collected in a trade, and we’re just starting work on the third. Kingdom is... well, I don’t know. It’s got a particular quality. Every time I read it, I go ‘wow, did we do that?’ I’m very very proud of it, and Richard’s art’s gorgeous. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and get the trade.

Speaking of trades, I hear the first nine or so issues of the Knights of Pendragon, an eco-superhero-Arthurian comic from the early nineties, is also about to be collected. Co-created with John Tomlinson, Steve White and Gary Erskine, and co-written by me and John, it remains a high water mark in my output, and is one of the first major things I did. People still ask me about the series.

Then there’s the US. Working as DnA with Andy Lanning, I write The Authority for DC/Wildstorm, which is their heavyweight super hero team book. We’ve been writing it since it relaunched about ten issues ago, and is worth reading because of the interesting setting: this is post-apocalypse superheroes. Wildstorm took the very bold step of destroying their Universe a little while ago... properly, not temporarily. It’s an interesting place to work.

Finally, Marvel. Andy and I are the cosmic boys at Marvel. We write the regular monthly books Nova (a solo space cop superhero title) and Guardians of the Galaxy (a cosmic super team), which are interrelated. To read either or both regularly, you need to get them from your friendly neighbourhood comic shop, but there are lots of trade collections to get you up to speed (Nova’s been running longer), and you can buy those in a high street bookshop. I saw the Guardians hardback trade in my local Waterstones the other day. Andy and I have been writing for Marvel for a long time, but we’ve never had critical acclaim like we’ve had on these books. I love working on both. Nova’s an old school superhero series. Guardians... well, I think Guardians is one of my all time favourite things too. Given that a lot of you Warhammer readers seem to particularly dig my character-driven stuff, I can’t believe you wouldn’t like these books. I can’t believe, for instance, that Xhalax wouldn’t love Guardians.

Anyway, Nova and Guardians lead us into the War of Kings, the next big ‘event’, which Andy and I are in charge of: a six issue mini series that crosses over with both books and showcases a stupendous interstellar war between the Inhumans and the Shi’Ar Empire. This starts in about a month (though there’s a one shot prologue out there already) and it’s going to be huge. Andy and I firmly believe that stuff should happen in event books. You don’t just play and then put all the toys back in the box. And this event also links the Marvel Cosmos up: The Shi’Ar are very much X-Men continuity, and the X-Office is letting us play with them. Though the Marvel Universe is one big fictional space, it’s a rare privilege to get to connect up the various editorial fiefdoms.

As a post script... and I said I was going to blow my own trumpet... BL informs me that Legion got to the number eight spot on the top 5000 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for 2008. There are several of my books on the list, but number eight? That’s amazing, especially for a tie-in. The top of the list goes Pratchett, Tolkien, Rowling, Iain M Banks, and I’m down below them between Raymond Feist and another Pratchett. I mean, come on!

Okay, my trumpet’s blown. I’ll shut up now.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

DnA Secrets Revealed

For some reason, my blogging muscles aren’t yet up to strength after the Christmas lull, so I apologise about that. I’ve been meaning to post rather more frequently, but... meh.

Any road up, this is just an interim “I must post this info” post, a public information service if you will. This weekend it’s the New York Comic Convention, which I was due to attend with my comic (cosmic?) writing partner Mr Lanning. Long story short, we’re not going to make it after all. We’re deep into War Of Kings at the moment, and we can’t really leave the white heat of the writing lab, not even for a larky jaunt to NY. A long weekend of conventioneering would put too big a hole in our delivery schedule. Sorry about that, just wanted to let you know in case you were thinking of looking for us there. Maybe next time (Andy and I are both pretty peeved we’re going to miss the fun).

Highway asked how Andy and I write together. Well, Highway, the famed DnA writing team finds it best to write alternate words using different coloured crayons. Seriously, the truth is, we sit facing one another and type on back-to-back typewriters, and then riffle-shuffle the pages together to make a script. No, no, we strike each other repeatedly with dictionaries like two manic contestants from It’s A Knockout until random words are shaken loose, then we sweep them up, feed them through a meat grinder, and expertly form the resulting mince into script sausages which–

All right, all right. We get together once or twice a week and brainstorm. These brainstorms, which involve sometimes literally throwing ideas at each other in a locked room, result in beat sheets and outlines which, once they’re approved editorially, I take away and turn into full scripts, while Andy returns to his ‘other’ job as a world-renowned comic book inker.

We’ve been doing it for twenty years and we find it works because, well, it’s fun. How many things can you say that about?

I’d like to thank Satan for the musical tips (not THE Satan, obviously), and advise his wife that the third (and final) Inquisitor trilogy will begin as soon as I can get to it. I‘m as anxious to see how it all ends as you are (clue: it’s not going to be pretty).

Roderick - a rhyming sword, historically, is one of a matching pair of ceremonial or ornamental weapons that had (because they were a set) the halves of a rhyming couplet etched onto each blade. In Ravenor, the idea is a little more mystical and esoteric. So esoteric, in fact, I can’t remember it exactly right now. But that’s the REAL definition.

Information will follow shortly about the rumoured Scottish tour, as well as other events that I or one of my clones are going to be popping up at. I’d like to take this opportunity to become wildly enthusiastic about my recent trip to Paris, which was fantastic. Thanks to every one who came to the three events, to the shop crews, and, of course, to fine people of the Bibliotheque Interdite, especially Mathieu and Dju. It was great to see everyone. Behold, below, some lovely snaps of the weekend, many of which reveal the fun times had by all.



GW Bastille

Commissar, anyone?

Research, research, research.

That last pic is the double-barreled holster pistol I’ve now seen in an antique shop window two years running. It’s huge, and will be appearing in as many 40K stories as I can subtly manage to sneak it into from now on (rest assured, I’ll only do it if it’s subtle. Ideas include “Giant Double-Barreled Holster Pistol versus the Blood God”, “ Giant Double-Barreled Holster Pistol Rides Again” and “What Giant Double-Barreled Holster Pistol Did Next”). Paris is a very 40K city: just wandering around the streets, museums, galleries and churches, I was overloaded with ideas, most of which filled the pages of my ubiquitous notebook.

Anyway, must close. A final word regarding Mr Dave Taylor, whose blog I hereby propel you headlong towards. Dave is a veteran GWer, and was (I’m sure) the first person I ever came across who’d built a Ghost army. Now he’s onto a Blood Pact army, which I’m sure will interest many of you. Take a look at It also helps that Dave is a very fine fellow indeed.

More news, and Hussar-esque activities soon. Enjoy the snow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

While I remember...

A Happy New Year to all. Thanks for your posts and messages over the holiday season. I hope you all had, as Xhalax put it, a “Happy Candlemass”.

We all had a lovely quiet Candlemass of our own here at the Fortress of Turpitude, except the Hussar, who was suddenly very active again. He’s clearly trying to tell us something. I’ll blog more about that soon. Make sure you have a glass of warm punch and a crackling log fire ready.

Had a great day up at The Black Library last week, where Graham and I planned even more devious and astonishing elements to add to our Wolves vs Sons (“One Wins, One Runs Home To Tell Mummy”) fethfest, with help from Nick Kyme, Alan Merrett and James Swallow. We also kicked around a few ideas to throw into Jim’s BRILLIANT new notion for a Horus book. I cannot wait to read it.

I also want to take a moment to note the respective passings of Oliver Postgate and Forrest J. Ackerman. Two minutes silence for each, please, minimum.

May I also recommend the new album by White Denim, which I first heard when I went to see the Mighty Boosh play the O2 with Junior Daughter. You’ll find it comes at you like a bag of kestrals, sir.

The proper purpose of this blog entry is to tell you about Paris. We’ll always have Paris. Now you can have Paris too. I’ll post details of my mini-tour of Scotland when we firm them up: right now, we want to make sure Blood Pact is finished and printed before I lead my Clone Forces over the border to sign it. In the meantime, I will be in Paris between the 22nd and 24th of January, in a little signing trip arranged by the fine gentlemen at Bibliotheque Interdite. More details can, I understand, be obtained from (

The three Paris signings are:

Thursday 22nd: Signing at the Games Workshop Bastille store, from 5:00 to 8:00pm.
This will be a signing for GW fans in a closed store, apparently.

Friday 23rd: Signing at the Starplayer store, from 6:00 to 8:00pm. This will also be a closed store signing with me doing a little (translated!) Q&A at the end. Buy tickets in advance from their web site.

Saturday 24th: Signing at La Fnac in Les Halles, from 4:00 to 6:00pm. This is a regular, open to all-comers signing.

I will be the one looking windswept and interesting, with a Gauloise Blonde, a scarf shrugged artistically over one shoulder, and a small glass of pastis, muttering to myself such things as, “I see speculative fiction as an amphibious landing craft of...”

Yeah, maybe not. See you there, anyway.